Orange County is exploring ways to regulate pedicabs in the International Drive area.
The pedicabs are carts that can hold a small number of people while the driver pedals a bicycle, and they’re useful for getting tourists traveling around the I-Drive area, especially for special conventions and events.
On Tuesday, the County Commission heard a presentation from Carla Del Johnson and Krista Barber with the Orange County Convention Center. Their concerns involved the heavy traffic in the area as well as safety concerns regarding drivers who take too many riders at once.
They told the commission the current process to obtain a permit to drive a pedicab involves a $50 fee, a background check by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and proof of a business tax receipt and working head and taillights on the vehicle, along with an operable bell or horn.
The proposed ordinance would involve going more into depth for safety reasons. Pedicab drivers would have to be 21 or older, clearly display their business name on the side of their vehicle, consent to a broader background check, have a Florida driver’s license and have vehicles which meet size and body type restrictions.
Enforcement and violations will be overseen by the OCSO, the Orange County Code Enforcement, and the program administrator.
According to Barber and Johnson, some of the safety concerns they’ve seen include large subwoofers and speakers on the vehicles, and pedicabs parking in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking pedestrian traffic.
There have also been incidents where passengers were hurt because of careless pedicab driving, Barber said, with at least one involving a car hitting a pedicab from behind, and another involving a pedicab driver running over pedestrians on the sidewalk.
District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke asked if they could implement a safety course to drive a pedicab, rather than simply only require proof of a driver’s license, which Clarke said may not be enough.
“If I’ve got a driver’s license, but then I’m driving something on the sidewalk with no gas, I forget what I’d learned,” he said.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs concurred, saying there should be some kind of test for the pedicab drivers as it was “different” from driving a car. She made a comparison to the kind of tests for other things.
“You need to have training for a local license to have bees in your backyard,” she said. “And of course, bees are naturally in the environment.”
The next steps will be further review of the ordinance and finally a public hearing at a future county commission meeting.